19 November 2011
We've been spoiled these past few years, you know. Last year, few people knew whether Wilhelmsen was eligible (he was). Lueke was a question mark because, with the failure to get a call-up in September and all the news surrounding him, no one was sure if the team was willing to commit. Medina was coming off a decent season, but was hardly a stellar prospect and had barely any time stateside. Peguero had his big power and noticeable flaws. And Cleto, who was later traded to the Cardinals, had a just endured a rough season in High Desert that had seen his walk rate climb a bit and his strikeouts drop. None of these guys were close to guaranteed spots, and yet all were added. This doesn't even get into the issue with Cesar Jimenez, who had only pitched fifteen innings that year, less than thirty total over the past two years, and never more than forty total in the past four. Or go back to 2009. Ramirez, Carrera, and Cortes were pretty much givens, but not many people saw Paredes, Orta, or Varvaro coming.
The M's could have gone a number of directions with this. They could have taken their chances and outrighted one of the lower-end pitchers from the roster, or found some way to rid ourselves of one of the twenty left fielders we have (eleven players ended up in left field for us last year, and all but Langerhans and Milton Bradley are still around). We could have used that to protect one of the High Desert outfielders, or Raben, or one of the projected future bullpen arms (how did we go through this without adding a pitcher?), or Fernandez even. Or, we could have done the opposite. Imagine if we had only added two of these three, with someone else or not. Could you imagine the debates that would be going on right now? We'd be sitting around trying to re-evaluate what we thought we knew about how the Mariners valued their players. Everything would suddenly be wrong.
Instead, the Mariners did something that was ordinary, unremarkable, and unlikely to initiate any deep and serious discussions. I don't know now whether or not the talent available elsewhere or lack thereof puts us at risk for having any players selected. I don't know if we intend to pick a player up in the Rule 5 and then return him midway through spring training, as has been our inclination in the past few years. I'll have to wait until Monday or so to see what other sources come up with for an unprotected list. What I do know is that five of our eight infielders on the roster right now either have third base as their primary position or are capable of playing it. It's the new left field.
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